When was the last time you misplaced your car keys or another item? How about the last time you missed taking a turn while driving?
Confession: I spent the last day looking for my checkbook which was sitting on the nightstand next to my bed.
So much time is wasted, special opportunities missed, and unnecessary problems created through mindlessness.
As you can see from these examples, mindfulness has many practical benefits. It will save you time, cut down on unnecessary hassles, and may even help you tune into an extraordinary opportunity. On top of that, it brings a greater sense of calm, clarity, and confidence into every aspect of your life.
There are 1,140 minutes in a day. Have you ever considered how many you actually spend in the present moment, mindful and aware?
A Few Pointers on Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the first practice on the path of meditation. It’s not the ultimate goal of meditation. However, without mindfulness true meditation will never arise.
Mindfulness doesn’t mean being overly concentrated. This will only bring more tension and stress. Ideally, mindfulness is balanced with watchful awareness and a relaxed sense of spaciousness.
How does it work? You place your attention lightly – not intently – on an object in meditation like watching the breath. Or on an activity in life like being fully present when you are eating, listening, walking and so on. At the same time, there’s a sense of watchful awareness that recognizes when you become distracted and lose the mindfulness. When that happens, you simply return your attention to the object or activity. The entire process is held is the arms of relaxed spaciousness. That means you are mindful but not oblivious to the world around you.
Reflection – Taming the Wild Elephant of Mind
For this week’s reflection, I’ve chosen a quotation from the eight-century spiritual master Shantideva, which highlights the enormous benefits that arise from simply being mindful and aware in the present moment.
“If this elephant of mind is bound on all sides by the cord of mindfulness,
All fear disappears and complete happiness comes.
All enemies: all the tigers, lions, elephants, bears, serpents [of our emotions];
And all keepers of hell; the demons and the horrors,
All of these are bound by the mastery of your mind,
And by taming of that one mind, all are subdued,
Because from the mind are derived all fears and immeasurable sorrows.”
– from Entering the Path of Enlightenment: The Bodhicaryavatara of the Buddhist Poet Shantideva by Marion L. Mactics
With all these remarkable gifts, you can’t help but wonder why there isn’t a stampede on to learn mindfulness. In case it’s not clear, the wild animals mentioned in this quote symbolize our wild and out-of-control emotions.
A Mindfulness Challenge
I once heard that the contemporary spiritual teacher Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche would sometimes give a pen to a student and tell them not to lose it as a form of mindfulness training. Now, I don’t know if this story is true but it sounds like a great experiment.
Why not experiment with using just one pen for a week and see what happens! If you take the challenge, please be sure to let us know how it goes.
There is so much more that could be said about mindfulness meditation. I will be writing more about mindfulness and meditation in the future. The main point for today is simply to to consider the benefits of mindfulness, and to take a peek into how mindfulness might help you.
After the checkbook episode, it’s clear I need to get back to my mindfulness practice! It’s also healthy to have a sense of humor about one’s imperfections.
Speaking of magical encounters, don’t miss out on this delightful story chocked full of elephant facts, fun photos, and a love affair with a few gentler gray friends from Farnoosh Brock.
Is your mind like a wild elephant? How often does it go on a rampage? Do you practice mindfulness meditation? Mindfulness in life?
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